This plant, sometimes erroneously called as a Justicia or Jacobinia, is a member of the Acanthaceae family and comes from Uruguay. It is sometimes apparently called the Uruguayan firecracker plant. Its previous name was Dicliptera suberecta.It is a small, lax shrub around 60cm in height with greyish, velvety leaves. The foliage colour will be greener if the plant is grown in shade or in a rich soil. The plant can spread quite wide. Its tubular orange flowers appear in summer and autumn. It blooms best in a sunny position with reasonable soil, but will also grow in light shade. It is very tough and drought hardy, and needs no attention other than to be trimmed back every so often to avoid straggliness. It is a good front-of-the-border plant for hot-coloured garden areas with Dahlia, Canna, Salvia and other warm-climate plants. It can be also grown in a pot.
The Acanthaceae family includes many plants which thrive in our Sydney gardens, such as the oyster plant (Acanthus mollis) and forest bell bush (Mackaya bella) which flower in late spring; jacobinia (Justicia carnea) which flowers in summer and autumn; and winter-flowering goldfussia (Strobilanthes anisophyllus), firefly (Justicia rizzinii) and Christmas pride (Ruellia macrantha). These plants are very resilient to our increasingly hot summer weather.
Most of these strike very readily from cuttings and in general they are excellent plants for shady areas in the garden where it is sometimes hard to establish flowering plants. Most are susceptible to frost in very cold areas.